September 17, 2012
All election, all the time. Welcome to the next 50 days of American reality. The “big choice” will be ours on November 6th: who’s going to get us out of this economic ditch we ran into 20 quarters ago, when we had that fast-lane tire failure, and cut our trip to Happy Land short? Good luck on that…
We may be singing God Bless America, but He never promised to be the God-Genie whose bottle was rubbed by a patriotic song. America? We’re in the penalty box, on God’s playing field… and He is the one who makes the rules on getting back on track. What gives?
A short course, on one page, for getting your personal life out of the dark into the daylight. Our flag salute says we’re “One Nation, Under God,” but in God’s vernacular, we’re “under God” in one of two categories: we’re either under His Blessing, or under His Curse.
Psalm 1 kicks-off Israel’s Hymnbook with a short-but-catchy tune about living under the blessing. It’s worth a read; the opening line says a ton: “Blessed is the man who…” It paints a clear distinction between people who look to godless sources for “wise counsel,” and the people who listen to God for their key inputs. Blessed people are listening to different voices than the cursed crowd…
“But wait!,” you say. “I’m a Christian, so I can’t be cursed!” Sorry, my friend. All Christians are saved, but not all of them live under the blessing of God. Proof? Glad you asked; the last writer of what we call the “Old Testament” would offer some needed clarity on that point.
According to Malachi, “I the Lord do not change…” Point: this isn’t “old;” it’s timeless. Going on, “…Return to me, and I will return to you…” Point: action is needed, on our part. Back to Malachi: “…you rob Me! But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings…” Clarity: the tithe 10% off-the-top, of your gross income; offerings are the over-and-above giving that denotes generosity. The person who is tithing is not generous; he is faithful.
Malachi: “…You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse… Test Me in this, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven…” Insight: the only other time the term “floodgates” is used in the Bible, it is back in Genesis, talking about Noah’s deluge. Two citations: one was God’s overwhelming judgment, and this one is God’s overwhelming abundance. Wow. He finishes: “…and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it…” (Malachi 3:6-12)
Two pictures: the curse, and the blessing. These are God’s people, but they are living like the godless because they are not being obedient. Don’t mistake God’s grace – which His unearned favor, which is the basis for your eternal salvation – and God’s blessing – which is His provision for His children who choose to be obedient to His clear instructions and position themselves through that faithful adherence to receiving God’s blessing. Grace is a gift from God; blessing is earned from God.
National statistics are sobering: among Catholics, 2% are tithers. Among Pentecostals, the number rises to 11%. The Evangelical community “wins” at 24%. Whoopee! Evangelicals are the leading losers; we only have 76% who are living without God’s blessing! A huge “ah-ha!” moment, friend: there are only two zip codes among God’s people. If you aren’t living in the boundaries of the blessing – not robbing Him, but honoring Him with your “first fruits” – then your mail comes to the Curse zip code. What does it mean to be “cursed?” You’re living outside God’s blessing.
Most Christians in America are suffering under the same effects as the godless around them. Why? They have chosen to live like the other side; they consider obedience to be optional.
We’re 50 days from the Election, but we’re 100 days from year-end. Here’s a challenge, from Bob-o to you: God invites us to “Test Me now, and see…” If you’re among the majority who are living outside the blessing, why not test God? Give Him the first dime from every dollar, now ‘til New Years…
At our house, we’ve already tested Him, about 35 years ago. He passed. We’re aware of the Great Recession, but choosing not to participate. How about you?
September 17, 2012